East Lansing City Council urges MSU to release Nassar records
EAST LANSING – East Lansing City Council is calling on Michigan State University to release more than 6,000 documents related to the university’s handling of serial sexual abuse and former MSU employee Larry Nassar.
The city council submitted the motion via a non-binding resolution, which was approved on Tuesday evening. The council has no power to force the documents to be published, but the unanimous vote was an attempt to put public pressure on the city where the MSU is located.
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The Michigan Attorney General has requested the documents repeatedly as part of its investigation into the MSU’s role in the scandal. However, MSU trustees declined to release the records, calling them subject to attorney and client law.
Attorney General Dana Nessel said last month her office will cease investigating the MSU’s conduct if the trustees continue to withhold the documents.
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MSU trustee Renee Knake Jefferson, a law professor, said she privately examined the documents and found no material new information. She called the content “consistent with information that is already in the public domain”.
However, many survivors of Nassar’s abuse are skeptical of the MSU’s self-assessment.
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Groups such as the MSU Faculty Senate and Reclaim MSU, an organization that supports sexual assault survivors, have asked trustees to release the documents.
“True healing and the promise of never being again require a thorough understanding of the culture and a full disclosure of how abuse could occur,” says the East Lansing resolution.
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“We have the opportunity in the state of Michigan to take a pioneering role,” said city council member Lisa Babcock on Tuesday. “As an alum, as a one-time helper, as a volunteer, as a donor, as a member of this community, I wholeheartedly ask you to release these 6,000 documents.”
The university agreed to a worldwide settlement with Nassar’s victims for $ 500 million in 2018, although the MSU continues to pay out claims above that amount. The university sued several of its insurance companies in an attempt to get their insurers to cover some of these costs.
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Nassar, a former Holt resident, will spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to sexual assault and child pornography in 2017. The former osteopathic medicine doctor admitted abusing women and girls under the guise of medical treatment, and the state revoked his medical license in 2018.
More than 100 people told of Nassar’s abuse during his hearings in Eaton and Ingham counties. The East Lansing resolution recognized the women and girls who came to be known as “Sister Survivors” for their contributions.
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“The action of these women has overcome fear, stigma and resistance to abuse in athletics for women and men and at all levels of sport,” the resolution reads.
Many of Nassar’s victims were athletes, including members of the USA Gymnastics Women’s Olympic Team.
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The AG office accused Nassar employee and former gym owner John Geddert of human trafficking, sexual assault and extortion last month. Geddert died of suicide the day he was supposed to throw himself in to the police.
A judge sentenced former MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages to 89 days in prison last year after she was found guilty of lying to police about her knowledge of a 1997 complaint against Larry Nassar.
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Nassar’s former boss, William Strampel, spent nearly eight months in jail after being convicted of misconduct in office and willful default in 2019. These allegations related to Stampel’s failure to properly supervise Nassar and to Stampel’s sexual harassment of female medical students. Strampel was the dean of the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine.
A judge dismissed charges against former MSU President Lou Anna Simon in 2020 after the AG’s office accused her of lying to police during an investigation into Nassar.
Contact reporter Sarah Lehr at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @SarahGLehr.